WHILE there are valid considerations the Petroleum Development Act and the Territorial Sea Act have contravened the Federal Constitution, there was no legal basis for Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg to declare they are not applicable in Sarawak.
Abang Johari, at the launch of the state-owned Sarawak Petroleum Bhd (Petros) on Wednesday, said Sarawak would assume full regulatory authority over the oil and gas industry in the state by July.
He also claimed oil companies wishing to do business, including Petronas, must have the necessary approvals from the state government.
The chief minister was echoing statements on Monday the state has reclaimed its oil and gas rights, saying federal laws ensure the resources remain in Putrajaya’s hands.
Sarawak DAP women bureau affairs chief Irene Chang said laws Abang Johari’s claimed had no force such as the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA), Territorial Sea Act 2012 (TSA) and Tripartite Agreement, signed by the federal government, Sarawak government and Petronas, have not been repealed or rescinded.
“To declare these two legislations as null and void and therefore have no application in Sarawak, the chief minister has to bring the matter before the courts of law.
“Until the courts declare as such, the acts are in force and applicable in Sarawak,” Chang said.
“To say otherwise is to give people false hope and the state government owes it to the people to set the matter right,” said the Bukit Assek assemblyman.
PDA gives Petronas exclusive ownership right to the oil and gas resources in Malaysia, and makes it the main regulatory body for upstream oil and gas activities.
Under TSA, Sabah and Sarawak could not exert its sovereignty beyond 3-nautical miles from its shores, short of the 12-nautical mile limit on other coastal states.
Chang urged Abang Johari to lead the state’s legislators to pass a motion to review the two acts and to get a court order to declare them null and void.
She added the state government might even have a legal argument to demand for the return of all the revenues earned from the resources from 1974 until now.
“Petros and Development Bank of Sarawak, although impressive and would create jobs, but whatever oil and gas that may be exploited in our waters, still need to go back to Petronas.
“We are entitled to only 5% of the royalty,” she said.
Chang said if the courts declared the two acts null and void and ultra vires to the Federal Constitution, then the Sarawak Barisan Nasional government needs to “apologise to the people of Sarawak.”
“It is time for the state gvernment to come clean and admit they allowed daylight robbery to be committed for the past 44 years. They need to prove their sincerity in claiming back what rightfully belongs to Sarawak.
“Has the state BN government the political will to stand up to the prime minister and the federal government?
“Have they got the political courage to go up to their masters since they believe the acts are not applicable, Petronas should immediately cease operation in Sarawak waters?”
On March 2, Petronas announced profit of RM23.8 billion in 2016 and RM45.5 billion in 2017. – March 10, 2018.